So, it’s officially the end of the regular season, and, as has been the case for quite a while, it is the end of the Reds’ season. So, I’ve decided to write the first of two entries that will only be of interest to me dissecting what I would like to see the Reds do in the off season so that next year might not be quite so grim. Today, we are going to cover pitching.
Note: The primary stat I am going to use is called ERA+. All you need to know about it is that it is prorated so that 100 is average. So, a pitcher with and ERA+ of 110 is roughly 10% better than a league average pitcher. You get the idea.
To start off, let’s look at the Reds top four starting pitchers this year with their ERA+ values.
Edinson Volquez 140
Bronson Arroyo 95
Aaron Harang 94
Johnny Cueto 94
The first thing you’ll notice is that this was not a disastrous year for Reds starters. Volquez was fantastic, ranking among the leaders in virtually every important and unimportant pitching stat. Arroyo, Harang, and Cueto were all below average, but only slightly so. More on these four later. For now let’s look at the ERA+ for the handful of pitchers that traded off the fifth spot for the Reds this year along with the number of starts they made.
Player GS ERA+
Josh Fogg 14 59
Homer Bailey 8 57
Matt Beslisle 6 62
Ramon Ramirez 4 169
Daryl Thompson 3 65
Looking at that information, the first thing you probably notice is that Daryl Thompson’s parents aren’t very good at spelling. The second thing you probably notice is that, aside from a handful of good starts by Ramirez, the Reds fifth starters were TERRIBLE.
Okay, so we’ve established what the Reds had this year, now let’s look at what they SHOULD do for next year. Starting at the top.
1. Volquez – He was excellent just a small hiccup after the all-star break. Keep giving him the ball every five days and hope he’s somewhere close to the player he was this year.
2. Bronson Arroyo – This was an off year for Bronson. His career ERA+ is 108, which puts him at slightly above average, and a solid number 3 starter. Keep giving him the ball every five days and things should be a-okay.
3. Aaron Harang – He was the Reds’ number 1 starter coming into this year, and had his worst year since 2004. He was derailed by a Dusty Baker attempt to destroy his arm with four innnings of relief work in an extra inning game between starts. This lead to a run of terrible starts and a trip to disabled list. He seemed to bounce back at the end of the year. So, as long as he doesn’t feel any lasting effects from that missuse, he should easily bounce back and be the fantastic pitcher we all know and love. If he does feel the effects, it will be a long year for the Reds.
4. Johnny Cueto – Johnny Cueto was a rookie. He has fantastic stuff. You do not complain when a rookie pitcher strikes out 158 in 174 innings. You keep him on your team for next year and assume he will get better which is what most every person in a position to know thinks should happen.
Now, at this point I am going to pause and point out that without any real luck at all. That is, even if nothing spectacular happens to any of these guys, no unexpectedly great seasons or anything, the Reds should have four above average to excellent starters next year. This is nice. This is very nice. This makes me feel good inside.
5. Mess – Josh Fogg is gone. I do not ever want to hear his name again. Matt Belisle, well, sorry Matt, but you’ve had enough opportunities, your time is at an end. I will gladly allow you to fill the role of mop-up duty long reliever, otherwise, adios. Homer and Daryl, you are both still young. Homer, you, in particular, have shown great promise and thus we will allow you to compete for the title of fifth starter nex year. Mr. Ramirez, you gave us a fine audition and your minor league stats are good. You will also be allowed to compete for the role of fifth starter. Last, we have Micah Owings who was acquired in the Adam Dunn trade. Owings has produced at the major league level before and we will also allow him to compete for the fifth starter job. If Bailey, Ramirez, Owings, or some combination of the three can come up with and ERA+ around 85 or higher, I will be a very happy man.
Okay, that takes care of the rotation, which, frankly, looks pretty good going into next year. No doubt, this is a recipe for disaster, as we all thought the Reds would be able to hit this year, and look how that went. Still, let’s try to stay optimistic and move on to the bullpen.
I don’t have much to say about the bullpen. Relief pitching is largely a crap shoot. Cordero is good. As are most of the supporting cast. I’d like to see Lincoln, Affeldt, and maybe Weathers resigned. Everybody else is still locked up. The bullpen should be at least okay next year (as it was this year) and should not approach the level of terrible it reached in 2007.
In closing, I feel good about the pitching situation for next year, I haven’t really been able to say this since, to quote John Fay, “Jose Rijo’s elbow was healthy.” Anyway, it’s been a long time. Tomorrow (or whenever I get to it), I’ll have an analysis of the lineup which will be, how can I say this, less optimistic. Until them, watch the playoffs.